Cartier’s grand Fifth Avenue Mansion has been transformed into an immersive exhibition showcasing its new high jewelry designs and the artistry behind them. This week, Cartier’s VIP clients from around the world got a first look at the collection, which is open to the public from October 21 to 29. It’s the largest ever assemblage of Cartier High Jewelry on display in the U.S.
Cartier’s High Jewelry features more than 70 one-of-a-kind pieces never to be repeated. Its Paris design studio has been working on creating these imaginative works for more than 2 years, according to Jacqueline Karachi, director of Cartier Haute Joaillerie. The collection highlights some of the world’s rarest gemstones, including a necklace with 13 large cabochon-cut emeralds, and a bracelet with a large carved ruby center. “When we speak about high jewelry, we begin with the stones,” says Karachi, who traveled with Cartier’s stone experts to select stones from around the world for this collection. “The stones speak to us, and we translate the energy of the stones into jewelry.” One of the standout gemstones in this collection is a large bicolor tourmaline that exhibits shades of pink and green. “This is the first time I saw a bicolor stone like this one, where the color comes from the center and it appears like a fire in the stone,” says Karachi. “We created a pattern around the stones, like the ripples in a lake, and used green sapphires to amplify the green color in the stone.”
There many familiar symbols in the high jewelry collection, like the carved rubies and emeralds in new renditions of Cartier’s famous Tutti Frutti designs, and the sleek panther presented in many forms. An element of whimsy appears in the way a jeweled panther wraps itself around a large aquamarine pendant or in how the panther head is perched atop a large crystal pendant. It’s identifiably Cartier, but at the same time, the jewelry has a modern sensibility with longer pendants, lighter designs, and transformable pieces that women can adapt for day or evening. “Women are very active today,” says Karachi. “They want to wear their jewelry more, and it is very important that we make wearable jewelry for every day, not just special occasions.”
After more than 30 years with Cartier, Karachi’s mission is to convey Cartier’s design vocabulary to the younger designers on the team of 12 in the creative department. “We transmit the Cartier style, but at the same time, we must evolve with our times. Designers of every new generation add to the evolution of the Cartier style.”
In addition to an extensive collection of jewelry, the exhibition features jeweled watches, objects, and a collection of curated vintage pieces. The design atelier has been re-created inside the Mansion with a wall of renderings of the jewelry; plus, three artisans are setting and faceting stones to illustrate the craftsmanship that goes into every handmade piece.